`We were chatting when we heard the noise. My first response was a blown tyre but in my mind I knew it was more'
by JENNY MONROE
THE Lisburn family caught up in a pipe bomb explosion on the Brokerstown Road say God was watching over them when they walked away unhurt moments after an explosion.
Last Friday minor damage was caused to the local family's blue Vauxhall Corsa car at 9.30am when a device exploded. The couple and their two and a half year old daughter were travelling on the road which they took as a shortcut to avoid the busy rush hour traffic on the Knockmore Road. The mother was driving and had just dropped off her five year old son at school and collected her husband who had left the family car into a garage for a service. They were planning to go for breakfast when the explosion took place. They do not believe it was intended for them.
The father, a passenger in the car described the moment after the explosion. He said: "We were chatting when we heard the noise. My first response was a blown tyre but in my mind I knew it was more - but it wasn't enough to freak us out. We pulled over to the side and the guy behind us pulled in to see if we were ok and then drove on.
"We looked around us and then called the Police."
He explained that the impact was right under the side of the car where his young daughter was sitting. "It could have been a lot worse. God protected us." He added: Our child asked what the noise was but she hasn't mentioned anything since apart from 'where's Daddy's sporty car?' The Police recommended that she have her hearing checked and everything is fine."
His wife who was driving at the time described the incident as "surreal". She said: "I think it was a case of wrong place wrong time. We are blessed - we don't believe it was intended for us. If it wasn't us it would have been somebody else."
She continued: "I noticed a cylinder object about 20 centimeters long on the narrow road and was very conscious of it but I didn't want to go too far across the road as it is very narrow. We were chatting about going for breakfast when the car connected with it. "There was a heavy smell of gun powder, a cloud of smoke and orange sparks and bottle and metal remnants. Thankfully it exploded out the way.
"God was looking out for us.
"It definitely has made me more aware of what is on the road when I am driving."
The explosion has been condemned by local political representatives.
The Mayor of Lisburn, Alderman Paul Porter, described the incident as appalling. He said: "It is appalling that there are individuals in today's society who feel it is acceptable to carry out such an attack. This device exploded close to two local schools, Ballymacash Primary School and Parkview Special School.
"Those who commit such crimes are despicable and there is no place for them in this peaceful time. I condemn such individuals for their crimes in the strongest possible terms, especially when their attacks affect young children."
Mr Porter urged people to be vigilant and that he hoped those responsible would be caught quickly by the PSNI.
"As a society we cannot tolerate such intimidation. All decent people are appalled by such attacks," he concluded.
It is not clear whether the device exploded as the car drove past it or over it or whether the device fell off the vehicle. Initial police inquiries indicate that the family has no connection with the security forces. Fragments of a pipe bomb type device have been recovered and will be the subject of examination.
Lisburn Councillor Jonathan Craig MLA said the local community is in shock at the incident. "I totally condemn this attempt on the life of innocent parents and their toddler in Lisburn."
He continued: "The fact of the matter is that if this device had gone off as planned we would be looking at the loss of innocent life. They were only saved for the fact that the device partially exploded."
Mr Craig added; "Through the N.I. Assembly we are working at moving Northern Ireland forward. However it is clear that some people living within our society are adamant on bringing further bloodshed and loss to society.
"It is vital that the community stand firm and ostracise those responsible for such activity from society."
Police are asking anyone who saw anything suspicious in the Brokerstown Road to contact them on 0845 600 8000. If anyone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Police also want to talk to a man who was driving a silver or grey saloon type car which was travelling behind the Corsa in which the family was travelling. This man stopped briefly and asked if the family was ok before continuing his journey. Detectives are asking this driver to contact them at the incident room on 90 700 335.